Book tour update

Just a quick post to provide an update on the book tour! I’ve got a number of dates set now, and some others that look likely. Here’s the schedule of set and probable dates and locations:


Red dates are confirmed or probable; I’m trying to set up something for teal dates; brown date is the New River Birding and Nature Festival (paid event); navy date is my day off to visit a couple friends in the area. :) A few of these are subject to final confirmation and may change; I’ll post the definitive schedule in a few weeks once I know.

April 29 – Detroit, MI area

April 30 – Columbus, OH area (The Nature Conservancy Ohio)

May 1 – Wheeling, WV (Good Zoo at Oglebay Resort)

May 2-5 – New River Birding and Nature Festival, WV (closed/paid event)

May 5 – if anyone is interested in an event in eastern KY, western VA or southwestern WV, let me know; it may be possible to arrange an event on May 5

May 6 – Richmond, VA area

May 7 – Davis, WV (Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge)

May 8 – Millersburg, PA (Ned Smith Center for Nature & Art)

May 9 – Hockessin, DE (Ashland Nature Center; Delaware Nature Society)

May 10 – East Brunswick, NJ (Playhouse 22, Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission)

No event on May 11.

May 12 – Athol, MA (Athol Bird and Nature Club)

May 13 – Ithaca, NY

Sunday Snapshots: First snow


These are actually from a week and a half ago, and were taken by Dan on his morning walk. I think I’ve documented the first snow of the last few years; it seemed a shame to miss this year, since it was such a spectacular arrival. There was nothing when darkness fell the night before, but at least three inches of the white stuff by the time dawn arrived.

Unrelated: the book tour is filling up fast. Thanks to everyone who’s either contacted me or passed on the info to groups in your area! I’m still open to potential dates in southern Michigan, Virginia and/or Delaware if you live in these areas or know a possible nature center or organization that might be interested in hosting an event.





PFG to Moths, status update 2

Back in May I posted a status update on the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Then, we’d just received the bits and pieces of the manuscript, all 4.5 inches worth of printed paper, with notes from our copyeditor. We went over all her corrections, made changes and additions as necessary, and sent it back. The good folks at Houghton Mifflin have been hard at work in the intervening months; in addition to creating the cover, the designers have been busy laying everything out into actual book format. We’ve had some back and forth as questions popped up, and got to see a couple of preliminary pages, but today UPS came by and I got to hold the very first printed proofs of the guide. Looking like a book. How awesome is that? Happily, today’s stack of paper is only 1.5 inches tall. We’ll go through the pages, mark in any changes or adjustments and send it all back again – and the book will be one step closer to being in your hands!

PFG to Moths contest winner

First off, thanks to everyone who sent in answers to the cover species and/or blogged and tweeted about the contest! I got a great response from folks, and I was pleased to see how well everyone did. Even considering the lack of a full printed field guide to live-image moths. ;) I went through everyone’s entries, put your names in a hat, and the winner of a signed copy of the new Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America is…

Jennifer Hansen!

Congratulations, Jennifer! I’m afraid you’ll still have to wait a little while before receiving your copy, but rest assured it’ll be coming. :)

For those of you who didn’t win but would still like a copy, don’t forget that you can now preorder the book from

Here are the answers to the identifications:

3666 - Archips dissitana - Boldy-marked Archips
3666 – Archips dissitana – Boldy-marked Archips

9485 - Papaipema baptisiae - Indigo Stem Borer
93-2494 – 9485 – Papaipema baptisiae – Indigo Stem Borer

8641 - Drasteria grandirena - Figure-seven Moth
93-0915 – 8641 – Drasteria grandirena – Figure-seven Moth

5204 - Diaphanis hyalinata - Melonworm Moth
5204 – Diaphania hyalinata – Melonworm Moth

2401 - Atteva punctella - Ailanthus Webworm
2401 – Atteva aurea – Ailanthus Webworm

5058 - Pyrausta orphisalis - Orange-spotted Pyrausta
5058 – Pyrausta orphisalis – Orange-spotted Pyrausta

2589 - Podosesia syringae - Lilac Borer
2589 – Podosesia syringae – Lilac Borer

7033 - Nemoria lixaria - Red-bordered Emerald
7033 – Nemoria lixaria – Red-bordered Emerald

7859 - Eumorpha pandorus - Pandorus Sphinx
7859 – Eumorpha pandorus – Pandorus Sphinx

6105 - Cnaemidophorus rhododactyla - Rose Plume Moth
6105 – Cnaemidophorus rhododactyla – Rose Plume Moth

9314 - Alypia octomaculata - Eight-spotted Forester (side)
93-1979 – 9314 – Alypia octomaculata – Eight-spotted Forester

7922 - Pheosia rimosa - Black-rimmed Prominent
93-0012 – 7922 – Pheosia rimosa – Black-rimmed Prominent

1058 - Polix coloradella - The Skunk
1058 – Polix coloradella – The Skunk

10520 - Morrisonia evicta - Bicolored Woodgrain (light)
93-2802 – 10520 – Morrisonia evicta – Bicolored Woodgrain

7715 - Dryocampa rubicunda - Rosy Maple Moth (side)
7715 – Dryocampa rubicunda – Rosy Maple Moth

10670 - Feltia jaculifera - Dingy Cutworm Moth
93-3498 – 10670 – Feltia jaculifera – Dingy Cutworm

PFG to Moths, status update

And, I suppose, an update on me. I’m still here! And just fine, though I’ve been really busy the last few weeks. I’ve been working five days a week at Innis Point Bird Observatory since the end of April, which amounts to the same number of hours as if I were working a typical 9-to-5, except I’m getting up before 3:30am every morning to do it and then I spend seven hours largely on my feet. Needless to say, by the time I get home I don’t have a lot of energy for things, and what energy I do have has to be judiciously distributed among my main priorities. Lately one of said priorities has been the moth guide; since I know all of you are eagerly looking forward to getting your hands on a copy the moment it’s available, David and I have been working the last couple of weeks for its prompt return to the publisher to ensure no delays in its publication.

I’ve found being involved behind-the-scenes on this project incredibly enlightening as to what goes on in the production of all those volumes resting on my bookshelves. I’m not sure I’d ever really given much thought to how they came to be, or if I did it was simply along the lines of author writes book, publisher publishes book. But there many more steps, and a lot more people involved, than that. The author(s) writes the book, sure, and submits it to their editor. But their involvement doesn’t end with the manuscript’s submission. The editor goes over the whole thing and sends it back for correction/revision. Then a copyeditor goes over the entire book again. That’s the stage we’re currently at.

The copyeditor is a godsend. Their job is to make sure the author doesn’t look like an idiot. They go through the manuscript with a metaphorical fine-toothed comb, cross-checking the details to make sure no mistakes or dumb goofs have slipped in. And believe me, when you’re working with something of this complexity, mistakes will slip in. It may be something as simple as forgetting to write in the host plants for one species. It may be misspelling the name in one spot. Realizing you left out an oft-used technical term from the glossary. Omitting the male/female plate labels for a species. Inconsistencies in vocabulary, calling the tree a tamarack in this account but eastern larch in this other; or calling a species a leafroller here but a leaffolder there. (Works of fiction also have copyeditors, incidentally; they’re looking for inconsistencies in plot or scene or other loose threads.) I must admit, I had gone through the manuscript before submitting it last fall, so I was a little dismayed be the red pencil all over it when the 4.5 inch stack of paper was returned to me. Dismayed, but very grateful.

I thought it might take me six or eight hours to work through all the corrections, and figured I could get it done in one full Saturday of work. But, as it seems I do at every stage so far, I severely underestimated how long it would take. (I honestly have a whole new respect for the authors of the field guides on my shelves. It might not be complicated, but it’s a helluva lot of work.) Some 30 hours later I finally bundled up the last of the papers into the box they were sent in and took them back to the post office. Needless to say, this has taken up most of my spare waking hours for the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t have many to spare to begin with.

Still, it was pretty neat to see the book moving forward. The part that really made it seem real to me, like it was actually going to become a bunch of pages bound inside a cover, were the images for the plates. All laid out together in rows, the moths clipped out and on a white background, it was already starting to feel like a guide. Once the publisher receives my box next week the materials go on to composition. Some poor person will spend the next several weeks taking all of our bits and pieces from their many sources and bringing them together in one spot, for species after species. We’ll have an opportunity to look over the first couple that get done, to ensure that it all looks correct before the compositor does four hundred of them. Then once the compositor is done, we’ll have another round of proofing, this time going over the laid-out plates. It’ll really be starting to look like a book then.

Here are all the different components of the book, sent to us for our review of the copyeditor’s mark-up. From left to right: the graphics illustrating the flight period for each species, the range maps for each species, the plate images, the endplate (inside-cover) silhouettes, the terminology diagrams for the introduction and the endplates, the photos for the introduction, and then the full manuscript, including the intro and end materials and the species accounts themselves. Each species has components in five spots (flight period, map, image, species account, checklist entry) and trying to keep track of everything can get a little confusing!

Now that that’s been mailed back, I’m hoping to get myself back into the habit of posting every two or three days here. I’ve got a huge backlog of photos that need clearing out, and now that summer’s arrived there’ll be more coming in every time I go out hiking. The posts might be a little shorter, but shorter is better than not at all. ;)